What was once an invention that existed only in our imaginations thanks to the boarding skills of Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future, the hoverboard now not only exists, but it became the hottest holiday gift of 2015. Today’s hoverboard does not actually hover above the ground. Instead, it is really nothing more than a hands-free, self-balancing scooter. When parents bought these hoverboards for their children at Christmas, none of them could have imagined that a seemingly harmless scooter would become such a cause for concern.
In fact, the hoverboard is more than just a concern – it is a serious fire hazard. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has counted 22 hoverboard fires in 17 states. A hoverboard created a house fire in South Carolina just after Christmas. Two teens at the home received hoverboards for Christmas. One teen had just finished charging his board when the batteries combusted and flew about 20 feet across the living room, lighting a chair on fire and burning the carpet. Officials say no one was injured, and the fire caused no structural damage to the home.
So, what is causing the hoverboard to catch fire? It could be something as small as the lithium-ion battery inside the hoverboard. Lithium-ion batteries have long led to explosions in electronic devices such as smartphones and laptops. While lithium-ion batteries hold a lot of energy, which is essential for powering electronics, they also carry the risk of fire if they become overheated. This is why some of the hoverboard fires have started while the hoverboard is plugged into a charger.
Last month, an Augusta, Ga., fire department issued a warning about potential fire dangers after they had to respond to a fire caused by a hoverboard. The fire department says in a news release that it responded to a fire at a house on Christmas Day. A resident had placed the self-balancing scooter outside. The device was heavily burned on the side that holds the charger. Inside the home, firefighters found black burn marks on two walls and the floor of the dining room. Officials say no one was injured, and the fire caused no structural damage to the home. The release says owners shouldn’t overcharge hoverboards, and to keep an eye on them while they are charging. They advise people to use one plug per socket, and allow the device to cool off before charging.
But fire is not the only safety hazard we are seeing with hoverboards. Hospitals are seeing an increase in serious injuries, such as concussions, fractures, abrasions, and internal organ damage, caused from falling off the hoverboard. Riders should wear the same protective gear they wear with rollerblades and skateboards. However, at this point, there are no safety standards in place for hoverboards, which provides no incentive for manufacturers to design a safer product.
Because of these safety concerns, some cities, airlines, and colleges have banned the use of hoverboards. Our lawyers will continue to monitor the development of these safety concerns and will advocate for safety regulations governing these defective products. If you need more information on this subject, contact Stephanie Monplaisir at 800-898-2034 or by email at Stephanie.Monplaisir@beasleyallen.com.
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